5 Common Reasons Behind Lean Manufacturing Failure

Lean Manufacturing, by definition, is about reducing non-value-added activities from the workflow. Unfortunately, the implementation of a Lean approach fails more often than not, and can end up as a waste of time and energy if there is not long-term follow through. Below are 5 common reasons why Lean fails:

Too many Tools

It is important for manufacturers to understand that implementing tools is a means to an end, not the end itself. Technical approaches are never a one-size-fits-all fix, and manufacturers who cannot see the big picture purpose behind tools will almost always fail.

Managerial Band-aids

Lean Manufacturing requires significant and pervasive change, yet often a management team is unwilling to take an in-depth look at their own processes. A quick-fix band-aid will never provide the support that is necessary to see Lean results, and management will be left assigning blame for failure instead of creatively looking at the process that is in need of changing.

Philosophical Differences

Lean Manufacturing is a holistic approach that cannot easily be boiled down to numbers, graphs, and profit margins. People cannot be viewed as an expense that can be cut. Quantity cannot be valued over quality. “Doing” Lean cannot be more important than “Becoming” Lean. If the philosophical foundation is not laid and understood, the Lean implementation will fail.

Taking Ownership

Culture is one of the most vital aspects of a Lean approach. Without a whole team buy-in that features constant correction, adjustment, and behavioral reinforcement, management is bound to face too many obstacles along the way. The people must believe in the system and take ownership of their role in a successful implementation. This will require patience and persistence, as well as clear communication of purpose.

Play the Long Game

Lean is harder than it seems. Results along the way will inevitably feature plenty of failure, but failure is a necessary part of growth. A manufacturer and its management team need to be willing to play the long game and recognize that a full scale philosophical change is going to take a lot of time and energy. The most common reason why Lean fails is because a manufacturer chooses to quit and return to the comforts of past methods, rather than persist through hardship and roadblocks.

Catalyst Connection offers Lean Manufacturing Consulting that provides the tools for a comprehensive continuous improvement approach. Their “Plan-Do-Check-Act” system equips manufacturers for short-term progress and long term sustainable growth. Recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all approach in Lean, Catalyst can provide a wide range of partner support tools towards Lean assessment, certification, and implementation.

There are five common reasons that Lean Manufacturing fails, but there are a myriad of other challenges that manufacturers face in their Lean journey. Outside help is available, and oftentimes necessary, to see a successful culture change and philosophical switch. Catalyst Connection can provide the consultation, tools, and support towards a long-term successful Lean implementation.